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NOK for Fromelles War Dead

NEW WEBSITE SEEKS NEXT OF KIN FOR FROMELLES WAR DEAD

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has launched a new website at www.cwgc.org/fromelles to trace the families of men who died in one of the most tragic battles of the First World War.

Early next month work will begin in northern France to recover the remains of up to 400 Australian and British soldiers who died in the Battle of Fromelles in July 1916. The remains currently lie in a number of newly-discovered mass graves at Pheasant Wood, in the village of Fromelles, where they had been buried by the Germans after the battle.The recovery will be overseen by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and progress can be followed through a new website at www.cwgc.org/fromelles

One important aspect of the project will be the attempted identification of the bodies recovered. The battle took place within a limited timeframe and by careful examination of records of the ‘missing' it has been possible to draw up a pool of possible identities for those buried in the mass graves. A list of these names will be published on the website.

Veterans Minister Kevan Jones said: "These men gave their lives for this country and everything possible will be done to identify and then lay them to rest with the full military honours they deserve. I urge families whose relatives may have died in the First World War battle at Fromelles in 1916 to check this list. We need the British public to look back in their family trees and come forward if they believe there is a chance their grandfather or great-grandfather died at Fromelles."

Peter Francis, Head of Communication for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission explained: "The website will play a key role in keeping the public up to date with activities at Fromelles. In that spirit we are pleased to be able to publish the names of men who we believe may be among those whose bodies will be recovered. "

Members of the public who believe they may be related to British soldiers buried at Fromelles can check the list of names at www.cwgc.org/fromelles or contact:

Historic Casualty Casework
Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre
Service Personnel and Veterans Agency
Imjin Barracks
Gloucester GL3 1HW

Tel: 01452 712612 extension 6303 or 7330
or email SPVA-JCCC-fromelles-GroupMailbox@spva.mod.uk

For further information, please contact Peter Francis on + 44 (0) 1628 507163 or + (0) 7766 255884 or by email at peter.francis@cwgc.org

Notes

1. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission is responsible for marking and maintaining the graves of those members of the Commonwealth forces who died during the two world wars, for building and maintaining memorials to the dead whose graves are unknown and for providing records and registers of these 1.7 million burials and commemorations found in most countries around the world. For more information visit www.cwgc.org

2. The Battle of Fromelles began on 19 July 1916 and was the first major battle on the Western Front involving Australian troops.Within a twenty-four hour period the 5th Australian Division had suffered 5,533 casualties, of which 1,780 were killed, and the 61st British Division suffered the loss of 1,547 men killed, wounded or taken prisonerThe group burial at Pheasant Wood was confirmed during a limited excavation in May 2008. It is believed up to 400 Australian and British soldiers still lie at this site where they were buried by German forces in the days immediately after the battle. A full archaeological excavation of the site and individual re interment of remains in the new Commonwealth War Cemetery at Fromelles is scheduled to commence in May 2009. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission is overseeing the work on behalf of both the Australian and British Governments.

3. The full list of names of those servicemen who may be among those buried at Fromelles is available from the Commission press office.

4. The Australian Army has developed a working list of the First Australian Imperial Forces soldiers it believes may be buried at the site and is encouraging relatives to register their details. Further information is available at www.defence.gov.au/fromelles


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